By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. April 22, 2021: US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, became the first top official in the Biden administration to meet with CARICOM ministers of government Wednesday. But while the meeting may have been historic, Blinken brought words and a “commitment to working with all countries,” but little else.
Blinken, who met virtually with 14 foreign affairs ministers at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, “emphasized the strong partnership between the United States and the Caribbean.” Ironically, the meeting came just a day after his US State Department slapped “do not travel” advisories on some 15 Caribbean islands, a move that could further devastate the already decimated tourism dependent economies of the region.
Nothing concrete was announced from the meeting except a State Department read out quoted Blinken as saying the US “… plans to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and promote a regional economic recovery.” It also plans “cooperation on increasing climate resilience, and continued collaborations on strengthening security, democratic values, and human rights.”
There were also more words – a “US commitment to working with all countries in the region to advance bilateral and regional interests.”
Nothing about donations of vaccines or any aid. In fact, the CARICOM, statement after the meeting promoted pretty much the same spiel – that the meeting “focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and its health and economic fallout for the region, recovery of the regional economy, climate change and democracy, human rights and security.” No one seemed to have raise the travel bans, despite the obvious impact they will have. The CARICOM Ministers also took the opportunity to urge the US to assist with access to much needed vaccines which was an imperative for the region to emerge from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
Blinken, according to CARICOM, then said he would engage with his colleague US Cabinet Secretaries on the issues of mutual interest raised by the CARICOM Ministers.
That’s it – the end! Not a single concrete plan or offer. Just more words.
This as India, Russia and China continue to play a ramped up game of high stakes vaccine diplomacy in the economically battered region and as the Caribbean has been relying more and more on Asia for COVID-19 help and vaccines, while the US plays cat and mouse with its Caribbean third border.